The second UEFA Football Doctor Education Programme workshop is taking place this week in Amsterdam, with injury diagnosis and treatment the main topic for discussion.
Spread over four days, the event gives national team doctors representing 49 of UEFA's 54 member countries the chance to learn more about the treatment of injuries that occur within the game, as well as to share best practice and exchange ideas. The course is being presented by leading experts from across Europe and members of the UEFA Medical Committee.
"This year is essentially focused on injuries, and of course injuries remain the first topic for a football doctor," said Michel D'Hooghe, chairman of the Medical Committee. "The intention is to give practical advice. We are not a medical congress – we encourage small groups where everybody can share and discuss their experiences, so when they go home it will be good for them to have some practical advice concerning the things they have met on the field and could meet there in the future."
"The main benefits are to meet colleagues in a similar situation, with different degrees of experience around Europe, and to share experiences," said Mats Börjesson from the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) medical committee. "And during the sessions, it's very important that even though we have different specialities, we increase the level of knowledge."
In addition to attending theory sessions on knee, hip, groin, ankle and muscle injuries, the delegates are able to get involved in practical sessions on these subject areas before being tested in practical assessments at the end of the workshop.
"Doctors are looking for a course like this. They have been to many conferences and meetings over the years, but this is more practical – and it's the practical part of it that is so nice for people," said Dr Börjesson.
The first workshop was held in Vienna in February 2012 on the subject of emergency treatment on the pitch, and Sweden is one of 18 countries that have cascaded that course know-how back to their own doctors, enabling knowledge to be spread further around Europe.
"Cascading is probably the most important thing. Because what can we do with just 54 doctors? They are very important of course, but it would be good if in each of the 54 nations they represent, there was cascading. There is already a lot and there are others that have plans to do it, so I'm happy about that, but everybody should do it," added Dr D'Hooghe.
"We've had a lot of positive feedback from the first workshop," he continued. "People have said 'a lot of things we discussed about emergency medicine, we were confronted with in the following months and we felt stronger because we had the experience from the meeting'.
"The global medical approach of UEFA is important. I have seen an increasing interest in football medicine over recent years, because now it is clear that medicine plays an important part, not only in the health of the players, but also for the success of the teams."
The workshop also includes an overview of the UEFA Injury Study from the first vice-chairman of UEFA's Medical Committee, Prof. Jan Ekstrand, in which statistics about the high number of injuries suffered by losing sides compared with winning ones are outlined. Meanwhile, the head of UEFA's anti-doping and medical unit, Marc Vouillamoz, has offered updates on new medical regulations for the 2013/14 season and amendments to UEFA's minimum medical requirements guidelines.
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